Friday, February 12, 2010

Parks and Recreation, "Galentine's Day": The intentional tourist

A review of last night's "Parks and Recreation" coming up just as soon as I pretend toys are people...

"Galentine's Day," written by "Parks" co-creator Mike Schur, wasn't as overtly comic by design as some other episodes this season, choosing instead to focus on updating the various romantic subplots: Leslie (with some help from Ron) realizes that she has to dump Justin, Tom finally tells Wendy how he feels, April dumps her gay boyfriends because she really wants Andy, and Mark makes a big effort to give Ann a proper (if intentionally-cliche) Valentine's Day, yet Ann seems unable to entirely let go of Andy.

And I think this far into the show's run, Schur and company have earned the right to do an episode like this, one that still had plenty of funny stuff - Andy's complete musical ignorance and running commentary about the senior center gig, John Larroquette's as the completely inappropriate dud of Leslie's mother's dreams, Tom reacting to Leslie and Justin's break-up like the son in a divorce ("Did I do something wrong?") - but that showed how seriously the show takes its characters, and how rich so many of them have become.

For the second week in a row, we get a glimpse of Ron and Leslie as work-spouses, a relationship that will never be romantic (and shouldn't be, right, folks?), yet where each one knows the other incredibly well and will look out for them even when they don't know they need it. And not that I think the show necessarily needs a love triangle(*), but Ann and Mark's conversation about how great things are "on paper," and her ensuing talking head, were a nice reaction to the general blandness of that relationship.

(*) It's also funny how, early in the series, it seemed that if we were going to get a triangle, it would be Leslie/Mark/Ann, and instead we're heading for the far less likely (but more alliterative) Ann/Andy/April grouping.

I was frustrated that we didn't get a clearer sense of what Tom and Wendy talked about before they hugged at the end of the dance, but beyond that, "Galentine's Day" was very satisfying. And Mouse Rat's rockabilly "The Way You Look Tonight" was really good.

What did everybody else think?

49 comments:

hench said...

leslie/ron is like liz/jack, so in other words, no.

Anonymous said...

Mike Schur is amazing. I think he's a huge reason for the quality of this show and that he is very much missed on "The Office". Wonder if the Tom/Wendy hug without sound was a bit of a nod to the Tim/Dawn "she said no" scene on the British version of "The Office".

belinda said...

I totally would buy Mouse Rat's "The Way You Look Tonight" on iTunes if they had it. (Also love: Mouse Rat logo on the drums)

I thought the scene between Leslie and Ron were incredibly sweet (but I do agree that this shouldn't become a romantic relationship, given Ron's love of brunettes and breakfast foods, of which Leslie is neither).

Also sweet: Andy dedicating a song to April. (Just curious - Andy/April isn't too unlike Jeff/Annie in Community in terms of the age difference, but while both couples have great chemistry, why does the latter feel so much ickier? And that in the latter, the characters themselves are aware of the ickiness?)

Understandably Tom was less sweet in wooing Wendy, but I'm not sure whether they were going for "Tom thinks this is sweet" or "Tom was protecting himself from the rejection by being an ass" when Tom revealed his intentions to Wendy.

And, ha! It's kind of funny for them to point out that Mark and Ann are a good but boring couple.

Jim said...

Andy/April feels like icky than Jeff/Annie because Andy acts the same age as (or younger than) April.

Also, Ron's commentary on Justin as a selfish tourist, collecting stories for his center-of-attention persona, was one I'm filing away for use in my real life. I'd never realized, but yeah, that's exactly what those guys are like.

Hoosier Paul said...

I'm a Ron/Leslie 'Shipper! The writers have gotta get those two together soon, or I'm boycotting!

Stacey said...

Loved the (unintended) perfect timing of "Stay away from John Mayer."

Lis said...

Agree with @Jim, Ron's insight into Justin as tourist was not only astute but really well set-up in previous episodes, with Ann's explanation to Mark: "we always thought maybe someday" and the million stories at the dinner party. Continuity? Yes, please.

P&R stays at my No. 1 spot for another week.

J.J. said...

Man, they really lucked into that John Mayer joke being worlds funnier than it would've been weeks ago.

Jen said...

I'll echo the comments on the prescience of the writers on the John Mayer joke. That played way better this week than it would've last week, for sure.

Also, I didn't like the Tom/Wendy reconciliation b/c it made absolutely no sense. I'm hoping it'll be addressed after the Olympics.. maybe?

It makes me sad to see the last (?) of Justin Theroux but Ron's description of him was spot on. And definitely no way on a Ron/Leslie romance. They work as office spouses and it would be a disaster to mess with that dynamic.

Furthermore! I loved the old ladies recognizing him as Duke Silver only to have Ron disavow all knowledge. He could totally have clued Andy in on how to work the older ladies.

Anonymous said...

As much as I wanted the Mark/Ann relationship to work (mostly because people say I look like Mark, and I want to believe I could land someone who looks like Rashida Jones)it is a very bland pairing. But how could she still be interested in Andy. I love the character but he's clueless, I barely buy April being into Andy, let alone the smarter more mature Ann.

Anonymous said...

...because chicks dig musicians? :D

lasdc said...

The "tourist" scene ending with the Duke Silver reference was perfect.

Oh, and for all the Nick Offerman lovers out there, NYMag did a cute interview with him and Megan Mullally. They discuss filming the Parks & Rec episode together.
http://nymag.com/arts/tv/features/63637/

Anonymous said...

Ron effing Swanson is fast becoming my favorite character in any sitcom on TV today. That talk with Leslie was awesome. I'm with Allan, no need to get them romantically involved. If it reaches that point, it means the show has run out of ideas IMO.

Ann/Mark really only work as straight men for the group. Two straight men in a scene together doesn't make for compelling TV. I hope they don't have Ann show an interest in Andy. April/Andy pairing works for me. I think April finds Andy's goofiness interesting. He's a different guy, unlike her trivial, cliched as know-it-all teenager type boyfriends. April is bored by cliche, mainstream stuff and Andy is certainly an alternative to that.

christy said...

Oh man. Remember back in 2000, after the election, when South Park did a whole episode lampooning the election fiasco like five days after it all went down? I was like "HOW'D THEY DO THAT"

I had that same feeling with the John Mayer joke.

On a superficial note, I loved the earrings Leslie was wearing in this episode.

And I loved everything else about this episode, too.

bad dad said...

lasdc - Thanks for the link. I would have sworn that Offerman was mid-40's as opposed to 39.

(Resuming eyewash.)

njames said...

I 3rd (or 4th) the comment of the Mayer joke. They couldn't have used it better in any other week than this one.

I for one HATE this show. The only reason I watch it is because I watch the other 3 comedies on NBC Thursdays. That said, this was the FIRST ep I actually found hilarious.

I LOVED how Leslie's mom had the romantic story that she's told her daughter for decades - only for it to have NOTHING to do with her dad.

Andy not knowing any older musicians was brilliant. Glad they are pushing that romantic element further.

Thought it was HILARIOUS when Andy snapped at the guy waiting 30 minutes to get his shoes shined; and that they guy still stayed.

I'm hoping to not see the gay couple ever again. I understand them being dooshes (this is how i spell it, incase people were going to correct me) behind Andy's back last episode. However, OPENLY mocking old people at a retirement home? That made them absolutely horrible human beings. I was hoping an elderly person would come up and beat them down. That was never going to happen on this show, but I just found it repulsive.

Jenn said...

I totally agree that Leslie and Ron are like Liz and Jack on 30 Rock and therefore should never hook up. Unless it was some kind of accidental drunken thing that made everything awkward for a while. I think I could get behind that. Leslie would want to talk about it and Ron would not and it could be hilarious.

Anonymous said...

* Loved the Duke Silver call back

* Also loved that unlike The Office as of late, they actually did a GOOD job making the exteriors look like they weren't shot in California. While the Office will add salt stains, etc to the car...you still clearly see those California mountains and sun. The sky here looked grey, and the roads seemed flat. Which for central Indiana in February was perfect.

Ben H said...

Lets hope leslie/ron never happens. that would be a jump the shark moment for sure.

Christopher said...

did anyone else think that Leslie's JFK sounded exactly like Julianne Moore's (much maligned) Boston accent?

maybe all the naysayers were right.

Chazz Goodtimes said...

Nothing blew me away in this episode but I found it enjoyable nonetheless. Considering how awful I thought the first few episodes were I'm continually impressed with how the first full season is panning out. Right now I have it a distant second to Community and Archer on thursday nights but ahead of 30 Rock and well ahead of the Office.

BigTed said...

I actually didn't think Justin's selfishness had been set up well in earlier episodes -- we've seen him as a slick raconteur who loves the spotlight, but there was no reason to think he couldn't have taken Leslie's needs into account in their relationship. To me, it seemed as if it was time for the character to leave, so they decided to make him a jerk all of a sudden.

I also found it hard to believe that Mark -- who, while we know he isn't a "relationship" person, is a good-looking straight guy well into adulthood -- has never so much as given a woman a Valentine's present before. And his apparent insecurity in his relationship with Ann seems like a poor fit with his apparent commitment-phobia.

On the other hand, the Andy/April flirtation was clicking on all cylinders. And it was nice to see John Laroquette back in a comedic role. (When's a sitcom going to give him a regular part again?)

tribalism said...

I didn’t really buy Ann’s sudden longing for a return to Andy—especially coming after Mark finally showed signs of having a personality when he went all out on the Valentine’s Day clichés. I would much rather see April and Andy hook up than see Andy back with his former girlfriend. At least now April has dumped her bi-friends and seems ready to pursue the office shoe shiner.

If anyone is interested you can find more of my thoughts about the latest episode on my blog. Click my username for the link.

Anonymous said...

It wasn't as funny as earlier episodes, but I do feel this has been the most consistent show of the comedies and thought last night's episode was enjoyable. This is the one show were I like and care about all the characters. I adore Andy and April and I'm hoping Ann doesn't cause any problems. I love Leslie and Ron's relationship and want it kept the way it is. I also hope we get a scene of Tom telling Leslie what happened with Wendy. I like when they let Jerry and Donna show up too!

gladly said...

I didn’t really buy Ann’s sudden longing for a return to Andy—especially coming after Mark finally showed signs of having a personality when he went all out on the Valentine’s Day clichés.

The only reason why I sort of buy it is that Andy is so much sweeter and funnier this season. I don't think the writers have done a total about-face with his character, but they've hit the right adorable puppy-ish note ever since Andy got the shoeshine stand. I love him so much more now than I did in the beginning of the show, so I can buy that Ann does too. Plus, Mouse Rat's old folks set was awesome!

GabbyD said...

this is the first time a tv sitcom made me think about relationships.

justin's problem was something i felt, but couldnt really express until now. when ron explained it, it felt like a light bulb lit in my head. how many times have i done a "justin" in my life -- interested in taking stories and not thinking how it would affect them... cool!

Terri said...

Can someone explain the Duke Silver joke? I'm new to P&R.

amyp3 said...

Wasn’t perfect, but still some great parts. (A few epis lately haven’t been as funny to me as earlier in the season. But I care enough about the characters to still want to see them.)

And whoa, so much plot development packed into 22 minutes – with all the couples, including one (Leslie’s mom & wazzizname) we’d never even seen before.

Also, I too am pleased this episode wasn’t just totally “Hah! Old people are nuts, amirite?” (It depends upon whether you’d consider Laroquette’s character “old.” )

I assume in the scene we saw but didn’t hear that Tom apologized to Wendy and wished her well. (Ala “If you love someone, set them free.”)

Re: the scenery - As a Midwesterner I’m never going to forget something’s shot in LA. Because when we have snow, the deciduous trees aren’t still in full leaf. But A for effort, I guess.

And to pick another teeny-tiny nit – do they say “pop” instead of soda in Indiana like we do elsewhere in these parts?

Anonymous said...

Loved this episode so much precisely because it focused on how far the characters and the relationships have come from season 1.

Please, P&R writers, do not ever make Ron and Leslie's relationship romantic! Please respect the characters you created and your audience enough not to go down that tired route.

I must be a horrible person because I squawked out loud at the lady's look on her face when Ron wouldn't sign her CD.

And I would totally download Mouserat's songs if there were on itunes!

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the Duke Silver joke? I'm new to P&R.

I forget what number the episode was but the P&R department were all trying to dig up dirt on each other that no one knew about. Ron found out about Tom's green card marriage and Tom in return found out Ron in his spare time was Duke Silver, a jazz saxophonist who the ladies loved. Its how they kept each other in check with their secrets.

Antid Oto said...

I, too, continue to love this show, but I'm wondering: whatever happened to Mark being a d-bag? He was much funnier when he was being a jerk.

first season watcher said...

Did they show Ron playing the sax?!

Allan, perfect headline referring to an aversion to people who pretend toys are people which was a laugh out loud line.

J.J. said...

I don't have a problem with Ann giving Andy a second look.

Go back to what he was like in the 1st season, and she put up with some pretty insufferable stuff. So, first of all, she clearly had a bit of a blind spot for him. But, second of all, look how together he's gotten it since then. With the job, and no longer stalking anyone or living in a tent in a sinkhole, and constantly volunteering to help the Parks Department (not just content to do his work as a shoe-shine vendor and then go home when it's quitting time, but really doing whatever extra they've got to throw at him).

Whether she seriously considers him a viable option again or not, is it not believable at least for Ann to wonder where this guy was when she was dating him? Because he had a whole different act back when he was her boyfriend.

amyp3 said...

Duke Silver makes sonic love to the ladies.

www.dukesilver.com

Rob said...

Not much to say that hasn't been already said ably in these comments - put me down as another person who would love to buy some Mouserat songs. I love the Andy/April thing, and I think Ann looking at Andy was just one of those "don't know what you have till it's gone" kinda things. I don't think it'll go much further than that.

I kinda thought the Ann/Mark relationship looked like it was in big trouble, actually, and not just because of the scene at the stage with Andy. That whole everything is good but nothing is great thing never works. You need a spark. Ann had a spark with Andy, but not the rest. It's the reverse w/Mark in my opinion.

I also thought it was weird to have a valentine's day episode where nearly every couple broke up.

Anyway, while it wasn't as funny as some episodes, I enjoyed it as much as the hysterical ones because of how great the characters are. Best ensemble on TV.

Rabbit said...

I thought it was brilliant to have four couples break up on a Valentine's day show, and have each one feel uplifting in its own way:

* Leslie's mom "breaks up," in a way, with John Laroquette, but it's sweet because it reminds us of the hope of young love.

* April breaks up with her gay boyfriend and her gay boyfriend's boyfriend, but it's because she likes Andy.

* Tom breaks up with Wendy, but they have some unexplained reconciliation, implying acceptance by Tom.

* Of course, Leslie breaks up with Justin, and it gives us that great moment with Ron. Ron Effin Swanson sees right through you, tourist boy. We recognize it's the right move for Leslie.

The point upthread about Mark being a jerk before is exactly right. In the first season episodes, he was more of an antagonist to Leslie, but now he plays a straight man role. I think it's directly related to Leslie's taking on a central role analogous to Michael Scott, but far less cynical. The show has come to be about Leslie as den mother (with Ron in a secondary role as father surrogate). It was much harder to project that dynamic with her being in constant competition.

Number Five said...

Having finally caught up on Parks and Recreation, I really enjoyed watching all four comedies in one block this week.

Musical stylings: finally, a Duke Silver callback! I would definitely download "Memories ...of Now" on iTunes. Ditto on "The Way You Look Tonight" via Mouse Rat, which was a blast.

The Leslie/Ron dynamic is very sweet - she had helped him out several times this season so it was nice for him to return the favor. Even before the end, the entire nooner conversation was hilarious and also summed up their relationship.

On Justin, I'm half with the consensus and half with BigTed...they had shown how he irked people like Mark and Andy with his self-centered stories, but we hadn't seen any prior indication that he treated Leslie poorly. So maybe one more episode would have helped, especially since we could have seen more of Tom seeking approval from Justin.

It quickly got overshadowed by the lifeguard story, but I really enjoyed Leslie's all-out effort for "Galentine's Day", complete with personalized essays on why all her female friends were awesome. And the very subtle geopolitical joke about where John Larroquette had been (in the 1980s, the US briefly invaded Grenada and Panama and supported the Afghan resistance against Soviet invaders...but he wasn't in the military!) There's always lots of stuff going on.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Ann had a sudden thing for Andy. What we saw was Ann seeing what she originally saw in Andy (up on stage, working the crowd) through April's eyes. She hadn't seen that in awhile.

Sam said...

why was Justin's car so dirty?

Anonymous said...

"why was Justin's car so dirty?"

Knowing Justin, there's probably a story behind it. Ba-boom Chi.

Number Five said...

why was Justin's car so dirty?

As Anonymous at 12:13 pm said, it's central Indiana in February, so everyone's car has extensive road salt streaks and other winter-related marks. Those of us in the mid-Atlantic are learning what that's like this year!

Anonymous said...

For weeks now, when I watch the DVRed Thursday night comedies, I go to "Parks and Recreation" first, followed by "30 Rock," "The Office" (I treasure the series, but they need to set an end date if they want to go out with dignity) and, usually a day or two later, "Community."

par3182 said...

Can someone explain the John Mayer joke?

I loved that episode; April is fast becoming my favorite character.

Imamarilyn said...

Loved Andy's band playing the old standards. The only reason in my opinion Ann can't let go of Andy is because she sees April is into him.

Great storyline about finding Marlene's lost love. I would love to see more Marlene in future episodes.

Anonymous said...

I guess I missed the issue with Justin until it was too late. I understand that they were dealing with Leslie's mom, and so her wishes should be respected, but I don't really see where Justin was being THAT much of a jerk? The way the set up was going, Marlene initially looked happy that John was back in her life, it could have worked out. Particularly odd since we hadn't really seen anything negative about Justin before this episode.

Not saying Leslie was wrong, just couldn't figure out why it should have been obvious that Justin wasn't a great guy.

Anonymous said...

You can always visit www.scarecrowboat.com to check up on the latest with Mouserat

Jungle Orangeman said...

What a great job Schur & Co display in this episode, not just with aforementioned characters being collectively megadeveloped and some spot-on jokes (Mayer, Duke Silver, Laroquette's mention of once having to be his own attorney) but they do something I love to see and seldom do. They misdirect you with scenes set up like a thousand sitcoms before it which quickly expand into more believable moments (Tom's failed proposition to Wendy with the D'Angelo music playing), cleverness (Leslie's mom's story NOT being about her dad) and goofy low-brow charms (Mouse Rat's performance "To-may-toes, To-mah-toes" which is a 30's Gershwins cover - fyi younger viewers).
Ron Swanson is the new Costanza. Well, maybe on his way...

Anonymous said...

Put me down as another guy who did not get the Duke Silver or John Mayer jokes

Anonymous said...

I am glad to know that I wasn't the only one who loved Mouserats' rendition of "The Way You Look Tonight." I'd buy on iTunes, or NBC, or anywhere really. :)